January 21, 2004

Show and Share


Today's post is currated by the discerning eye of a four and a half year old. While traveling, I was graciously welcomed into the family home of beloved friends in Pheonix. My prescence there became the pre-school "Show and Share" subject of the family's oldest daughter.

Reports are that "Alice" described me as "an artist who takes walks in the desert and makes drawings." When asked what the drawings look like, her succinct answer, "swirly."

My young friend's presentation resulted in her getting some pre-school homework, namely to see if she might be able to bring in one of those "swirly" drawings to share with the class.

Could there be a more desirable audience than a classroom of 4 year olds? Eyes whose youthful survey is fresh and without judgement. Perception independent of aesthetics.

I did, however, call upon Alice to make a critical assessment: to select which drawing she would like to take to class and show her friends. After removing images that might be regarded as disturbing, I offered her many drawings from which to choose. The above posted drawing drew her immediate and unwavering enthusiasm. "That's the one I want to take to school," she said.

The piece is unique in the works I showed Alice in not featuring a human figure, and is easily the most representational drawing I made during my stay in Pheonix (possibly the most representational drawing I've made in 15 years!). It could, essentially, be the view out the back of her family's home. (Actually, I made it sitting across from the Convention Center in downtown Phoenix.)

Addendum: Happily, I can report that, in today's unveiling, the drawing earned winning approval for itself and its presenter. In fact, the story may well continue, for the teacher plans to make photocopies of the drawing for the kids to color and then send to the "artist."

I'll keep you apprised.

Posted by mark at January 21, 2004 11:58 PM

Mark, what a beautiful story and encounter with Alice. It's wonderful and so awesome to think that she perceives your world of art as part of her natural world. Viewing and entering into art at such an early age includes it as part of the child's natural world--parents, trees, oranges, brushing teeth, barbie dolls riding their horses, drawing and painting what is seen and/or imagined. Further comment: I noted Alice's language has changed with her generation. When speaking of the pizza that you and Dan ordered, she said, "It' the best pizza on the planet!" My generation and the one after me would have said, "It's the best...in the world!" World is more a concept; planet is a specific known place which we know many facts about. I think children know the planet in relationship terms, it's their home, where they live in a very real way. Love, Elizabeth

Posted by: Elizabeth Turner at January 24, 2004 12:20 AM